First Time Footballer

A regular feature from our “first time footballer”, an outside view on the footballing world.

A First Time Footballer

Having watched snippets of last weekend’s games and spent a fair bit of time with two of my football-mad friends, I feel relatively clued-up about the Premier League’s latest happenings. The core theme of my post this week is the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel nature of the Premier League.

I’ll begin with Manchester United. A couple of weeks ago, after Man United’s surprise loss against Swansea, I appealed to fans to give poor Louis van Gaal more time before giving up hope. I felt bad for the United manager – who hadn’t had much time to settle into his new role and was dealing with injuries plus a lack of decent arrivals over the Summer. So, I was pleased to see their hefty 4-0 win over QPR at the weekend: “By the end I hope to be a Premier League champion, if not this year, then in the second or third”, rejoiced van Gaal. Now Louis, whilst it was great to see a stadium full of delighted fans and a team refuelled with self-belief, you can’t afford to get too carried away. Even I am fully aware of how quickly the fate of certain teams can change from match to match.

Take Brazil in the 2014 World Cup – they more or less cruised through the group stages and were many people’s favourite to go all the way in the competition. This was before one of the biggest shocks in footballing memory took place where Germany thrashed the Brazilians 7-1 in the semi-finals – a game that will go down in history! The Man United manager might want to calm down a bit and not get supporters fired up in a frenzy with rash predictions about a league that has only really just started. Not only is it a rather hasty projection so early in the competition, but also the impressive victory was down to a number of factors that have the potential to drastically change throughout the season.

Di Maria was supposedly the man that made the difference at the weekend, scoring his first United goal within half an hour of his home debut – it seems that the £59.7 million signing was worth every penny. However, it’s a dangerous idea to put all your eggs in one basket – we saw how Uruguay lost all momentum after superstar Suarez was banned in the World Cup. Di Maria’s future performance is dependant on a lot of factors – not meshing well with his new club, personal issues or injury all have the potential to rule him out of the season. Furthermore, QPR put on a particularly poor performance and United still face some challenging games.

Aston Villa have also showcased the unpredictable nature of the Premier League – with a pleasantly surprising victory against Liverpool at the weekend. I was busy in my kitchen late on Saturday afternoon, when I heard an ecstatic screeching, followed by a series of bangs, coming from my living room. When I went to investigate, I found my Villa obsessed friend grinning on the sofa after Agbonlahor had just scored, 9 minutes into the match. From my limited knowledge of Villa, I knew better than to let him get over-excited – there was still plenty of time for it to go to pot. I was surprised to return, 63 minutes into the match, to find the score line still at 1-0 to Aston Villa. When the final whistle was blown, there was further screeching from the sofa followed by more than a couple of beers. To my restricted Premier League knowledge, Villa don’t have the most fantastic reputation with regard to their performance, so I have to hand it to them – they’ve had a brilliant start to the league, where they currently sit in 2nd place.

There is, of course, a however. They haven’t had such a promising start to their Premier League campaign since 1998-99 and even then they dropped from the top spot at Christmas 1998 to finish 6th at the end of that season. Furthermore, their next four games are going to be extremely tough, even the most optimistic Villa supporter isn’t expecting four wins, and so it looks like their luck could be rapidly changing fortunes. Even just by looking at the first few games played by only two Premier League teams – with an array of surprise wins and shocking losses – it’s easy to see why it can be such an addictive sport to watch. Hopes are regularly raised and dashed as the unpredictable, exciting and, often, cruel Premier League progresses. 

A First Time Footballer

Unsurprisingly, I am still struggling to get to grips with the ins and outs of Premier League football. I certainly feel like I understand a bit more about the different clubs, where they are from and who manages them – so that, at least, is a step in the right direction. However, while I continue to try and get my head around it all, I’ve been finding it interesting to look a bit more into the footballing world outside the actual matches.

Last time, I briefly looked at the behaviour of football fans after the tragic incident involving Albert Ebosse – https://originalfooty.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/a-first-time-footballer-11/ – in which I logically concluded that enthusiasts ought to find less extreme ways to express their disappointment (preferably not involving injury or death…). After criticising the inappropriate actions of die-hard supporters, it is difficult to ignore the actions of the players themselves.

I am sure that we are all familiar with the infamous Luis Suarez of Uruguay. Suarez sunk his teeth into the tasty Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup this summer and was consequently suspended from all football-related activity for 4 whole months. Extreme? No. I might feel a little bit of sympathy for the star player being handed this harsh punishment if it had been his first warning. But it wasn’t. And it wasn’t even his second. In 2013 Suarez was banned from a total of 10 games after taking a bite of Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match. Previous to that, it was PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal who had the unfortunate pleasure of meeting Luis. I appreciate that he is a phenomenal football player but how many times does he need to be warned? He’s like an insolent child who refuses to do as he’s told. I hope he will have learnt his lesson after the most recent incident that also cost him a whopping £65,680 – although that probably didn’t dent his bank account too heavily.

This week, it was a lesser-known player that hit the footballing headlines. Austrian player Ismail Gunduz was given a hefty 70-match ban for head-butting the referee. Gunduz, playing for SK Rum, was far from impressed after being shown a second yellow card and assaulted the referee without warning. Naturally the club immediately threw the player out, assuring fans and the press that they firmly distance themselves from such behaviour. “This sentence is madness,” claims the Austrian, who maintained that he slipped and fell into the referee. To be honest, denying the offence just makes the whole debacle more embarrassing – he should take the ban like a man and apologise for his actions.

Whilst I am not a professional football player, I have been in my fair share of pressure situations. There have been countless occasions where I have had to hold back from lashing out at someone, so I understand the feeling. If I were to head-butt an annoying person in my life, my Mum would be far from impressed. However, as a full-time footballer, you’ve got your Mum and the rest of the world judging your actions…

Possible solutions?

  • See an anger management counsellor on a regular basis
  • Find a new, more relaxing, job e.g. beautician
  • Calm the hell down

A First Time Footballer

This week our First Time Footballer reveals the results of the stadium quiz and takes a look at the tragic death of Albert Ebosse.

The results are in…
1. Who plays at Upton Park? West Ham
2. Crystal Palace play at which ground? –
3. The club that Alan Pardew manages play in which stadium? St James’ Park
4. The KC stadium is the home of which club? Hull
5. QPR play where? Loftus Road
6. White Hart Lane is the home of…? Tottenham
7. Brendan Rodgers’ team play where? Anfield
8. Leicester City play at which ground? King Power Stadium
9. Burnley play their home matches at…? Turf Moor
10. The Stadium Of Light is the home of? Sunderland

I make that an impressive 9/10 – an improvement on my last football knowledge quiz! A few of the stadiums have particularly memorable names, which made it quite easy to memorise them ‘KING POWER STADIUM’ and ‘STADIUM OF LIGHT’ sound especially grand and I would quite like to learn the stories behind the naming of these football homes.

Albert Ebosse. Not a name I’ve ever come across in football until two days ago. The Cameroonian, playing for Algerian team JS Kabylie, was last season’s top goal scorer in the Algerian league with 17 goals. He was only 24 years old and showed great promise as a footballer.

Albert Ebosse was tragically killed by fans throwing rocks

Albert Ebosse was tragically killed by fans throwing rocks

He died as a result of an object, thought be a rock or piece of concrete, that was thrown on to the pitch and hit his head. After Ebosse and his team lost 2-1 at home (Ebosse having scored his team’s only goal), angry and disappointed fans took to hurling objects onto the pitch. I have no doubt that whoever is responsible had no intention of killing anyone, let alone a star player, but how you can throw concrete slabs into a group of people and expect a happy ending? This certainly isn’t the first incident of angry fans acting unacceptably, but it is most definitely one of the saddest that I’ve come across.

I appreciate that fans may feel irritated and disheartened by a loss – but go and have a couple of drinks, punch a wall (gently) or shout about it (into a pillow)… There is no excuse for what the footballing world has seen this week.

A First Time Footballer

So, the Premier League is back in full swing and it seems that everyone is very excited. My Facebook and Twitter feeds have already been inundated with messages of support, disappointment and joy surrounding the first few games of the season.  It would appear that some people have simply spent the past few months mourning the end of last season and eagerly awaiting the return of the Premier League – their lives incomplete without the competition.

Having not actually watched any of the matches thus far, I can’t say that I am one of those people.

Via twitter and Facebook, I did manage to work out that 1.) Aston Villa won their first game and didn’t play too badly against a favoured Stoke and 2.) Louis van Gaal and his team did not perform to the high expectations placed upon them. I can certainly appreciate the disappointment that fans must be feeling to lose their first game (apparently it was Man U’s first opening-day loss at home since 1972), however, I do feel a strong pang of sympathy for poor Louis. The Dutch manager, after a pretty successful World Cup campaign, was welcomed into Old Trafford by rapturous applause, and after only one (albeit disappointing) game, the fans seemed to turn on him. Football can certainly be a cruel industry sometimes. The pressure, plus injuries, plus the lack of decent arrivals over the summer, meant that Swansea swept into to steal a 2-1 win. It certainly wasn’t ALL Louis van Gaal’s fault, and he can hardly be judged purely on that one performance. It takes time for a new manager to settle into the job and get his team working as best as they can. Don’t be writing him off just yet, give him at least a few more games to prove himself. I’ve got my fingers crossed for poor Louis, I dread to think what even one more loss would do to the frenzied United fans…

Now, back onto furthering my football knowledge. With a solid 80% in my Premier League managers test, it’s time to take another baby step. This time, I’ll be looking to memorise the Premier League stadiums – a topic about which I know even less than football managers. I reckon I’ve got a total of two…

Villa Park (Aston Villa) and Old Trafford (Man United). Looks like I’ve got a bit of work to do over the next week.

Arsenal – Emirates Stadium

Aston Villa – Villa Park

Burnley – Turf Moor

Chelsea – Stamford Bridge

Crystal Palace – Selhurst Park

Everton – Goodison Park

Hull – KC Stadium

Leicester – King Power Stadium

Liverpool – Anfield

Manchester City – Etihad Stadium

Manchester United – Old Trafford

Newcastle – St James’ Park

QPR – Loftus Road

Southampton – St Mary’s Stadium

Sunderland – Stadium of Light

Stoke – Britannia Stadium

Swansea – Liberty Stadium

Tottenham – White Hart Lane

West Brom – The Hawthorns

West Ham – Upton Park

Having written them down, I realise that I actually recognise more of the names than I thought I would. It’s just a matter of matching them to their team PLUS recalling the names of the managers that I learnt 2 weeks ago. Let’s see how I get on next week…

A First Time Footballer

Last week, A First Time Footballer took on the challenge of trying to learn the managers of the Premier League teams. Having only known 3 prior to the test, I wasn’t feeling particularly confident. The results are in…

1. Who is Harry Redknapp the manager of? QPR
2. Who is Everton’s manager? Roberto Martinez
3. The manager of Leicester is…? Nigel Pearson
4. Man Utd have recently employed…? Louis van gaal
5. Liverpool are managed by…? Brendan Rodgers
6. Tony Pulis manages which club? Crystal Palace
7. Garry Monk is the manager of which team? Swansea
8. Who is the boss of West Ham United? Pass
9. Who manages West Bromwich Albion? Alan someone?
10. Alan Pardew manages which side? Newcastle

8/10

I am actually quite pleased with my 80%. By no means did I spend the past week or so studying the managers religiously. In fact, I’ve been on holiday and Premier League revision has been far from my mind. However, I did try and come up with some random yet memorable ways of getting the names to stick in my head (e.g. Surely the Queen and red-headed Harry don’t take knapps in the park = QPR Harry Redknapp) and I think it turned out pretty well. I’ve still got a little bit of work to do, but it’s all about baby steps when you are trying to tackle something as varied and ever-changing as football.

Whilst I was on holiday, I visited some family friends who live in LA. The son of the family is soccer mad and often stays up until the early hours of the morning to follow English football, particularly to support his beloved Manchester City. He plays for a team called ‘Santa Monica United’ and apparently it is quite a costly hobby.

A large reason for the high membership price is that a lot of very poor children want to play football for a team. In many cases they don’t speak English, can’t afford football boots and couldn’t dream of being able to pay for membership at a club. However, they play phenomenal football and are blessed with raw skill and talent. So, the families that can afford to pay their membership, cover the costs for the children that can’t. The system works because it benefits everybody involved – the kids desperate to train can do so, the families that are paying extra don’t mind because their team becomes stronger and improving the side is the main goal.

I don’t really know if this is what happens in all clubs or not, but I was really impressed with the idea. It just goes to show that despite the many criticisms of football and the money involved in the industry, it does bring together people from an array of upbringings and backgrounds because of their shared love of the game. Actually, football is pretty great.

A First Time Footballer

As the Original Footy know-it-alls near the end of their Premier League previews, I still feel completely and utterly lost. I have been reading the posts, but there is mountains upon mountains of information about the teams involved – names I can’t spell or even begin to pronounce, movements of players from foreign and exciting lands, absurd sums of money in the fight for the best footballers – all of which I find baffling. For those of you who, like me, want to learn a bit more about the game but can’t hope to retain all the information in the Original Footy previews, the key is to go at it in bite-size chunks. So, we will begin today with the managers of the Premier League teams. I’m going to ask one of the guys at @0riginalFooty to test me on this at some point next week, so it’s time to start learning!
Arsenal – Arsene Wenger
Aston Villa – Paul Lambert
Burnley – Sean Dyche
Chelsea – Jose Mourinho
Crystal Palace – Tony Pulis
Everton – Roberto Martinez
Hull – Steve Bruce
Leicester – Nigel Pearson
Liverpool – Brendan Rodgers
Manchester City – Manuel Pellegrini
Manchester United – Louis van Gaal
Newcastle – Alan Pardew
QPR – Harry Redknapp
Southampton – Ronald Koeman
Stoke – Mark Hughes
Sunderland – Gus Poyet
Swansea – Garry Monk
Tottenham – Mauricio Pochettino
West Brom – Alan Irvine
West Ham – Sam Allardyce

At present I would say that I know 3 of these for sure. A measly 3 managers. Arsene Wenger is one of them and is an easy one to remember because his name is so similar to the name of his team. I actually know Paul Lambert and Aston Villa, but only because a good friend of mine speaks of very little else other than his favourite team. Finally, Manuel Pellegrini is where my knowledge of Premier League managers ends. I was on a flight back from Malaga last summer and he happened to be on the same plane as me. When collecting our luggage, he was stood with all the “normal” people and I noticed lots of passengers going up to him and asking for his autograph. Needless to say, I had no idea who he was so I sneaked a photo of him and sent it to a few of my football-savvy friends who confirmed that it was Manchester City’s new manager. So, I currently stand at a meagre 3 out of 20. I have a lot of work to do. Look out for A First Time Footballer’s post next week to find out how well (or not as the case may be) I fare in my Football Manager test…

A First Time Footballer

So, the World Cup has come to an end in Brazil. After one thrilling semi-final and a second, far less thrilling one, it was Germany and Argentina that met in the final of this worldwide spectacle. From what I’ve seen of the Germans, they thoroughly deserved to win the competition and it probably helped ease the pain of the Brazilian population – the team that, quite frankly, destroyed them, came out victorious.

I have to say, I was a little bit nervous about the reaction to the Brazil vs. Germany semi-final. It’s safe to say that nothing like it has ever happened before and the final score (Germany 7 – 1 Brazil) means that it will be going down in history as one of the most shocking games of all time. I am sure that we are all aware that Brazil has it’s fair share of problems and the amount of money thrown into creating this year’s World Cup was very controversial. It all seemed to be going swimmingly and, as long as Brazil remained in the competition, the population appeared to push aside the aforementioned issues and enjoy the event. After the humiliating semi-final, I felt like the world was holding it’s breath to see the fallout. However, the Brazilians were remarkably gracious and the Germans knew that they ought to celebrate respectfully. In fact, the majority of Brazil went on to support Germany in the final!! I think the nation of Brazil accepted the defeat knowing that it was one that will forever be remembered and they can be safe in the knowledge that their World Cup was one of the most exciting and surprising ever.

But now what…?

As I have mentioned before, the World Cup is infinitely easier for a football newbie to understand and follow – people playing for their own country just makes sense. If you have a little look at the blog’s most recent posts, you will see that we are preparing our followers for the upcoming Premier League season. With detailed previews of all the teams, @0riginalfooty are brimming with knowledge for you all. I have read all the posts so far and, to be perfectly honest, I still feel woefully clueless… I suppose we’ll just have to see how I get on!

If you have any questions that you need answering or if you need any of the football jargon translated get in touch @0riginalfooty and we’ll try our best to help out!

FINALLY – After pointing out the impracticality of Belgian Fellaini’s mass of hair, he went a shaved it off! Coincidence? I think not…

Fellaini old hair

A First Time Footballer

Throughout the past few weeks of World Cup madness, I have noticed various things about the footballing world that have intrigued, amused and, sometimes, shocked me…

The Suarez bite incident was certainly quite bewildering – and he hasn’t done himself any favours by spending the following days denying having a chomp on Chiellini’s shoulder, before revealing yesterday that he had, in fact, bitten the Italian. The incident won’t be forgotten in a hurry and, I imagine, will haunt the rest of Suarez’s promising football career.

Secondly, whilst I appreciate the importance of talented strikers, a goal is, at the end of the day, a team effort. I can’t stand watching a goal scorer race around the pitch with his shirt over his head (surely this is breaching some kind of health and safety regulations) before standing with arms outstretched, body tensed and sculpted abs rippling from the roars of support from his loyal crowd. You can practically see his head ballooning as the rest of his team mates try desperately to get in on the action, but just end up jumping in a useless pile on top of each other…

On the other hand, I have thoroughly enjoyed the celebratory style of the Colombian side. On hitting the back of the net, the team join together and perform a dance. The routine doesn’t last very long, nor does it distract from the actual game. It simply brings together the team, who all deserve to celebrate the goal and, furthermore, it displays a fantastic sense of team spirit – something that is a key part of a successful team.

The final thing that has kept me well entertained throughout this World Cup has been the questionable hairstyles of many of the players. There are a number of important factors that must be taken into account when the players are in front of the mirror – heat, humidity, visibility, stylishness, individuality. Here are five of my favourites.

Marouane Fellaini

Whilst Fellaini scores high for individuality, he has failed to see the practical side of playing international level football in temperatures often reaching near 40 degrees. This intense mass of hair will be problematic for the Belgian.

Paul-Pogba-by-Christopher-Lee

One of the more baffling World Cup hairstyles from Pogba here. He’s kept it short, which shows he is thinking practically about playing in the Brazilian heat, but the black and white stripes just look like he is trying too hard.

Kyle Beckerman

I am not normally a fan of dreadlocks however, for me, Beckerman is pulling the look off. I am not sure how it will fare in the humid climate of Brazil, but it requires very little maintenance and leaves him time to focus on the competition.

-32a828663ea481ea

Many would argue that Giroud has one of the best hairstyles at the tournament this year and whilst he scores highly for stylishness, I just can’t imagine that it’s a practical look to maintain. He should be spending time focusing on the game and training, instead of sculpting his hair.

Raul+Meireles+Portugal+v+Sweden+zsNzlCKc709l

Meireles grabs top points in all categories as far as I’m concerned. He has managed to achieve a unique yet practical look – the nearly bald head ensuring that he won’t be overheating on the pitch. And that facial hair is just beautiful…

Is the football pitch is starting to morph into a fashion runway? Either way, it’s quite entertaining to see the constantly changing hairstyles of these footballing stars. As the World Cup grows increasingly intense, I’ll continue to tune in and enjoy the action (and the hairdos).

 

A First Time Footballer

As I have alluded to in a previous post, it is often much easier for a First Time Footballer to pay more attention to the actions and reactions of the players during the matches, rather than the actual game itself. As Suarez’s recent incident proves, even football connoisseurs can become distracted from the game sometimes. After Chiellini rammed his shoulder into Suarez’s teeth (really…?) there was a flurry of outraged tweets from the general public and well-regarded footballers alike. My Facebook newsfeed was shortly overflowing with jokes and images about the Uruguayan and it was, honestly, quite amusing. Aside from all the hilarity, there is, of course, a more serious side to the story and I was pleased to see today that FIFA decided to ban Suarez for four months – ruling him out of the remaining World Cup matches as well as the start of the Premier League. It’s good to see that the footballing world aren’t letting even the most talented of players get away with ludicrous occurrences like this…it’s just a shame he couldn’t have done it before the England game!

Rather than ramble on about ‘the bite’ (the Internet is flooded with opinions, photos and gags already), I want to talk about my experiences of the World Cup in Spain over the past few days. I arrived in Madrid, where I had been living for the past 8 months, on Monday night. Having watched the Champions League final between Atlético Madrid and Real Madrid in the centre of the city a month or so ago, it’s safe to say that Spaniards are football crazy. I headed straight out to a tapas bar for some food with a friend, hoping to catch a bit of the World Cup action. No games were being shown at the first place we went to, so after our first round of tapas, I suggested that we head to another location and try and catch some football. My friend recommended a place that he had been to a few days before, where they show the matches on a big screen in the terrace – perfect! Lo and behold Café Continental was not showing football on their screens, but instead what looked like a black and white movie! Then, today, I met with my landlord and we started chatting about the World Cup. He seemed totally unenthused and said that he hadn’t really been following it since Spain had crashed out…

While your country is still in the running, you care about every game that they play and root for them until the bitter end. You follow carefully the progress of the other groups to see who your team could be up against if they are lucky enough to get through the first stages. You head out to pubs and bars with all your friends for some drinks and food whilst enjoying the spectacle.

When your country is knocked out of the competition, the buzz totally disappears. What a shame.

I’m certain that a similar extinguishing of excitement is happening around the world as, one by one, nations drop out of the race. Although die-hard football fans will still be tuning in, I think it’s probably fair to say that, as a general rule, if your country isn’t playing, you don’t really care.

Despite all this, and despite England no longer being in with a chance, this First Time Footballer will continue to tune in. With the help of @0riginalfooty and their team of enthusiastic and knowledgeable writers, I feel all clued up and eager to see what thrills The World Cup can provide in the coming weeks.

A first time footballer

I have to admit, it has been quite easy to get hooked on The World Cup. Believe it or not, yesterday I actually sat and watched two, yes TWO, entire football matches – Ivory Coast against Colombia and, of course, England against Uruguay. I think that there are a number of factors that make The World Cup so much more accessible to more clueless watchers like me and I can honestly say that I wish this frankly stunning event took place more often than every four years.

Firstly, it is so much easier to grasp the idea of players from a certain country playing for that country’s team. I just can’t keep up with the buying and selling and moving and leaving and joining and contracting and transferring of players and clubs. Not only that, but I think the valuing of players in monetary terms does wonders for their self esteems and makes some players quite detestable. However, Wayne Rooney isn’t going to decide that he doesn’t like England any more and decide that he wants to play for Uruguay (too soon?). For someone that doesn’t keep up to date with the movement of footballers, The World Cup is something that I can easily understand and, as a consequence, enjoy.

Secondly, I don’t feel any loyalty to a particular football team in England. I live near Manchester, so people immediately presume that I must support City or United. I taught English at a primary school in Spain for 8 months this year and while many of them didn’t even know how to say ‘my name is Juan’, I was regularly asked ‘City or United’. I became so bored of saying ‘oh, I don’t really follow football’ that I would just randomly select one of the two as an answer. My Dad would say that he supports Newcastle United, but he certainly isn’t an avid fan and I haven’t been brought up to feel any sort of connection to the team. England, on the other hand, well I obviously I am English and I live in England. Now that is something that I can feel loyalty to and when put head to head against another nation, it’s impossible not to get patriotic.

That leads me nicely onto my third point. The excitement that surrounds The World Cup is difficult to miss and it’s so electric. Shop windows are decorated, cars are driving round with flags waving, I’ve seen countless England t-shirts being worn and, although quite hideous, I’ve seen some fantastically adorned houses with lights, banners and cardboard cut-outs. The way in which the English get behind their team and support them to the bitter end is contagious and makes The World Cup a superb event.

The match last night was surprisingly gripping, right up until the final whistle was blown. I found myself checking twitter, and even tweeting about the game myself, as a way of sharing and fuelling support and when Rooney scored his first World Cup goal I felt extremely proud.

As I sat alone on the sofa at 10pm last night with two empty cider cans, leftover Chinese take-away congealing on my plate, feeling pretty gutted, I realised that I was starting to like football.